Brace Yourself For Bungie Hate As ‘The Dark Below’ Introduces Some Painful UpgradesFiled inside: Editorial
I don’t entertain the idea that making and balancing a AAA-class game, especially one as big in recent months as Destiny, is easy.
There’s a lot of minutiae involved in making sure that players are satisfied as they play without having them reach the pinnacle of play too quickly. As the game grows and evolves, how do you keep players from feeling as though their hard work isn’t all for nothing? After all, only the most cold and logical players feel that their investments were relevant for the proper time, and have few qualms about leaving their equipment and builds behind for fancier gear in the future.
Destiny has been a real minefield when it comes to community perception of the game in its various forms. It was a game that I was very excited for during the beta, to a game that was unapologetically unfinished on its release. While many of the decisions that Bungie has made when it comes to player advancement and the acquisition of loot have been questionable, especially considering the prominence of those mechanics in the face of a nonexistent story and boatloads of repeated content, they’ve also been rather receptive to community feedback, vitriol and all.
Take the last update, for example. For ages, the exotic weapons in the game, lauded as the most powerful and storied gear available in the game, were found to be generally underwhelming in their execution (hell, the best part of many is the fact that they sound different from their other counterparts). Some obvious star players aside, they were tweaked legendary weapons that sounded impressive on paper, often “balanced” with limitations too severe for any unique features they touted. They also suffered from a massive grind to acquire and upgrade, prompting irregular or casual players to lament their ability to level one to the maximum without weeks of effort.
Bungie engendered a massive amount of good will this last Tuesday by introducing a long-awaited update to the game that adjusted many of the exotic weapons to return them to prominence. Guns with great abilities, but poor stats were tweaked to become valuable again. Guns with subpar or redundant perks were retooled for greater variety and effect.
Material exchanges appeared to allow for marks to be exchanged for upgrade materials at reasonable rates. Certain missions now grant resources that required dedicated farming runs for acquisition before. And none of it felt particularly “forced” onto the players. Keep your marks for guns, if you like, or use them for mats if you’re in a pinch or have spares. No longer did you need to split your Ascendant materials between exotic and legendary gear, exotic gear only required a single new Exotic Shard for its final upgrade (though this did upset a very small portion of players that had upgraded an item to a single step before the maximum).
Some of the biggest complaints by the community were succinctly addressed in a light update, and the community responded in kind, singing Bungie’s praises for listening to their complaints. Yeah, we’re still drip-fed our items by the world’s most selective RNG system, but at least some of the more obnoxious parts were smoothed out.
Then, in one fell swoop, Bungie nearly wrecked it for all of us.
GameInformer had a chance to play through the expansion with many of its changes over the course of the last few weeks, and posted its impressions today, and the community has returned with torches and pitchforks where just days ago, they had nothing but compliments to give.
After dangling more easily acquired materials in front of the players’ faces, it turns out that investing time, and especially exotic shards, into your exotic gear is essentially pointless as you move into the new expansion. Exotics were meant to be valuable additions to your inventory at every point in the game, but it turns out that you’ll have to put your time into them all over again to keep them relevant. Upgrading your current exotics to remain in line with the new content will come with a steep, steep cost: you’ll have to give the gun to Xûr, along with 7,000 glimmer and an exotic shard (which can be purchased from Xûr for 7 strange coins, or obtained from dismantled exotics). Upon doing so, you’ll receive a version of the gun with upgraded attack or defense, but that has its progress reset to zero, hence the community’s rage.
Zealous players seeing the enhanced availability of materials immediately took advantage of them, and summarily spent a lot of time and resources on weapons they’ll need to progress through all over again. It’s being called another attempt to artificially extend the life of the game, and is one that feels immensely severe, like Bungie is telling the players who put in the most work to screw off and do it again. Even worse, a limited selection of weapons and armor are available for upgrade per week, so be ready to simply never see your favorite weapon pop in when you’ve got the materials available.
Naturally, people are upset. Bungie failed in properly explaining some of the changes made, especially when introducing exotic shards without telling players of the part they played in bringing one’s guns into the new content. Lines in the article also served to undercut any benefit this had,
“Where your older purple legendary items are left behind with the expansion, this change ensures that exotic items carry forward into the new content, and remain as powerful (and hopefully moreso) than new expansion-tier legendary items.”
This means that all the legendary gear we’ve spent marks on, rolling through Iron Banner for, or running the raid to acquire is about to be rendered rather pointless, though the oddity in the emotional reaction of the players is that this is nothing new. Look at any other MMO to release ever. As the level cap goes up and harder content is introduced, your old equipment becomes obsolete, but as Destiny isn’t your traditional MMO, something about the statement just feels incorrect.
I applaud Bungie for giving us a way to keep the guns we love the most relevant throughout the game’s lifespan. Even if it sucks to have to relevel these guns, we at least have solace in that the amount of required experience to max these guns has been reduced to compensate. I’m not a fan of abandoning some guns that I spent the better part of months to acquire, but I’ve done it plenty of times before, worse things have happened. It seems that most people are upset primarily because the expansion doesn’t feel as though it offers enough new content to justify the amount of work being put in front of us to remain at the top of our game.
In the end, the players that are the most upset should realize that they’ve gotten out of the game what they’ve put into it. They got to enjoy being the best at what they did, and now have more to do to stay there. This isn’t an unheard of concept, it was simply presented in a poorly timed series of updates to the game. I was prepared at first to quit playing when I read about this, but have realized more and more that I simply don’t mind it so much. Out with the old, in with the new.